Paper making has changed over the past decades. The industry uses renewable energy more that ever, it has reduced water usage and has increased the use of recovered fiber; forest certification and chain of custody now insure the end user that the right things are being done, really!
But it also has been keeping up with the advancing technologies in printing and imaging today. With today’s digital presses paper makers need to work hand in hand and enhance the sheet to work and be qualified on the many machines out there in the market place. Paper like any product has many different variables that go into the making of a sheet.
Because toner and inkjet behave differently than ink, they usually require special papers. Some paper manufacturers offer grades for both digital and offset litho, so that jobs can include sheets printed by both processes. Take Inkjet for example. Inkjet printing is was originally designed mainly for home, home office, and small business use, but is becoming increasingly common for commercial applications. For best results on inkjet printers, use papers specifically designed for digital inkjet technology—with optimized smoothness, sizing, sheet formation, special coating, or enhanced brightness. Inks for drop-on-demand inkjet printing are pigment-based rather than dye-based. This means they are water-soluble and therefore less permanent than inks used in offset printing or toners used in laser printing (electrophotography). Non-water-soluble, lightfast inks are now available for industrial use. Combined with fade-resistant papers, they enhance photo longevity and color fastness. Some printers feature a custom color match (Pantone Matching System – PMS) for high-resolution jobs. Printers can also provide a color chart to designers.
For Digital laser methods; Static electricity is how toner-based printers work, so humidity control is important. Some digital presses have built-in temperature and humidity control systems, but except for a few models, you will need a humidity-controlled environment. Higher temperatures increase the likelihood of humidity-related problems, including curling, blistering, cracking, etc. The higher the speed, the more heat generated. Proper paper conditioning prior to and during printing are important. Ideal conditions are 45% humidity and 75ºF (24ºC).
Specifically designed digital laser printing papers provide the best performance. Better “runnability” and end results are obtained with ultra-smooth surfaces and high brightness. Because the color range is limited compared to offset printing, laser digital printing is not recommended for color-crucial jobs (i.e. paint or fabric swatches).
Choosing the right media and then the right printing technology pared with the right paper can be tricky but a good printer and paper supplier can help. Trust them to help you get your message across!